John Fleskes Interview on Muddy Colors

Arnie Fenner conducting a lengthy interview with me that touches upon my making my first dollar when I was 8 years old, my stunt years, how I started Flesk, what it was like to take on Spectrum, and what we can look forward to in the coming years after looking back at 15 years as a publisher.

I hope you enjoy it!

Here’s the link.

Enjoy,

John

Flesk Publications
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Spectrum Fantastic Art
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live on Facebook

Text and photos copyright © 2017 John Fleskes. Videos © 2017 Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2017 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.

John Fleskes Interview on Multiversitycomics.com

A big thanks to Mark Tweedale at multiversitycomics.com for interviewing me about the new Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea Studio Edition by Mike Mignola and Gary Gianni.

Mark asked me excellent questions that gave me the opportunity to talk about how the book was conceived and how we work together here at Flesk.

Here’s the link.

Enjoy,

John

Flesk Publications
Flesk Publications on Facebook
Spectrum Fantastic Art
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live on Facebook

Text and photos copyright © 2017 John Fleskes. Videos © 2017 Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2017 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.

J.A.W. Cooper Online Interviews

Hi, everyone,

Over this last week there have been two interviews posted online that feature J.A.W. Cooper. I thought that I would share the details about each with you in case you were interested in learning more about Cooper.

The first one was conducted by Bobby Chiu from Schoolism. A portion of this interview is her philosophy regarding freedom vs. income and maintaining a proper balance in life. This hour-long video can be viewed on the Schoolism website, or on YouTube.

https://www.schoolism.com/interviews.php
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUDNRk1mneI

The second interview with Cooper was conducted by Walt Morton and is titled “Drawing the Inner Animal With J.A.W. Cooper. It’s an enjoyable read where you can gain much insight into her influences, working methods, and additional details regarding her philosophies.

https://www.poetsandartists.com/magazine/2017/5/14/jawcooper

We hope you enjoy these interviews!

Thanks again for all of your support!

Enjoy,

John

J.A.W. Cooper Kickstarter Link

Flesk Publications
Flesk Publications on Facebook
Spectrum Fantastic Art
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live on Facebook

Text and photos copyright © 2017 John Fleskes. Videos © 2017 Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2017 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.

John Fleskes Weekly Video Update 2

Hi, everyone,

Week 2 of the Flesk office manager Kathy Chu sitting me down and asking me some questions and to share what we are up to in the office this week.

Enjoy,

Text copyright © 2016 John Fleskes. Photos © 2016 John Fleskes. Video © 2016 Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2016 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.

Interview with Spectrum Director John Fleskes!

Spectrum-23-cover-webHi, everyone,

Last May I was sent a series of questions by Julie Sagar at ImagineFX for use in an upcoming August 2016 article about Spectrum and Spectrum Fantastic Art Live. As is usual, due to space considerations, they were able to extract a few key sentences for use in the article. Here is the full uncut interview that covers my passion for all things relating to Spectrum.

Thanks to Julie and to ImagineFX for the coverage!

ImagineFX: On the Spectrum site, it says “Spectrum will continue to evolve and improve with each volume.” How, or in what way has Spectrum 23 evolved from Spectrum 22? What can readers look forward to (aside from the stunning showcase of the year’s best work to which we’ve become accustomed) with this annual?

John Fleskes: One notable change that I made when I took over with Spectrum 21 is the inclusion of the artist profiles for the award recipients. This was important to me for two reasons: The first is to highlight the artists behind these amazing works; the second is to highlight the art community which is the beating heart of Spectrum.

Additional improvements for Spectrum 23 include new chapter opener sections and a revamped design. As the artists grow to reflect today’s atmosphere, Spectrum grows right along with them.

ImagineFX: And how has it changed since the first annual?

Fleskes: Its significance and impact on a positive and nurturing community has grown exponentially since the initial Spectrum annual was released. This mission statement was clear from the very start. It has been magnified many times over the last 23 years, and through my leadership “community” will continue to remain Spectrum’s key priority.

ImagineFX: How many different artists are featured in Spectrum 23? And which artist (or piece of work) most caught your eye this year? (Please feel free to name me that one!)

Fleskes: There are nearly 300 artists featured in Spectrum 23. It’s always extremely difficult to single out favorites, for #23 or for any year, simply because there are so many exemplary works by so many different people for a wide variety of reasons. If pushed I could say that the art that most caught my eye might be “The Year of the Ram” by Android Jones, which might be obvious since I selected it to use for the cover of Spectrum 23. I chose this art for its sheer beauty. Put simply, it is gorgeous and I kept returning to look at it again and again. In some ways I feel that Android Jones defines the future while setting the stage for others to follow. But, of course, he’s not alone.

ImagineFX: Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 5 has been moved to April 2017. In what ways will this next iteration of the event be bigger and better than ever before? What can attendees start to get excited about? What can you do now with the new venue that you couldn’t before?

Fleskes: For starters, we are exploring running the workshops and panels on Friday only. The exhibitor floor hours will be concentrated on Saturday and Sunday. This allows the exhibitors and the attendees the opportunity to take part in the educational benefits of the panels and workshops without the requirement of running a booth or missing the floor activity. We want our artist exhibitors to have the same opportunity as the attendees to excel, network and learn from one another.

Our new space allows for a better booth and artist alley table integration in a central and unique atmosphere. SFAL is a place where the artists are respected and treated like the stars in an elegant atmosphere. Each year we make subtle improvements that cater to our exacting standards.

ImagineFX: Why do you think Spectrum–both the book and event–have proven so successful? We’ve read about the excitement exhibiting artists have for other exhibitors at SFAL–it’s been called a “love-fest”; the atmosphere most be incredible–and the book has a really hit a chord.  How can you explain it? Why does Spectrum resonate so strongly with the fantasy industry?

Fleskes: It gets back to our love for the art community. For me, and also for Spectrum co-founders Cathy and Arnie Fenner, Spectrum is our family. It’s a place where we can call home and were we can leave the door open where everyone is welcome regardless of medium, style or convention. We promote goodwill and the value in being here to help support one another and to provide a safe environment where we can grow and enjoy or passions together. You tie in beautiful art and a supporting healthy community–it’s a beautiful thing. In brief, we create and promote the atmosphere that we most cherish for ourselves.

ImagineFX: What’s next? Do you have any plans to further evolve Spectrum (either the book, event, or by adding something new to the mix)? What are your plans for the next 5-10 years?

Fleskes: There are many things planned for the next 5-10 years, although it’s a bit early for me to talk about openly. But yes, I always envision where I will be taking Spectrum over the next 20 years. We have a pair of exciting announcements that we will make in another year that will broaden the Spectrum brand, community and outreach. I always work 1-3 years in advance, with my mind considering where Spectrum will be in 10 to 20 years from now and what I need to do today to make sure we hit our future goals.

One of the things that I am most excited about is seeing the new artists in their early to late-twenties who are breaking so many boundaries and who will revolutionize what we see and how we will see art in the years to come. We are seeing people from all over the world and from all walks of life submitting to Spectrum. With our level playing field and by being a place where everyone is welcome, we have the amazing opportunity to show and reflect these changes like no other annual. And, in this way we can show the most diversity seen in the industry. That’s something I especially love. It’s going to be very exciting seeing how each volume of Spectrum captures each year so we can look back to see how quickly things are changing.

The reason why I don’t worry about competition is because no one can match my passion, perseverance or my work ethic for what I do.

Enjoy,

Text copyright © 2016 John Fleskes. Photos © 2016 John Fleskes. Artwork © 2016 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.

Petar Meseldzija Interview Video!

During my most recent trip to The Netherlands I had the opportunity to film Petar Meseldzija in his studio. Over the course of a few days I filmed him painting and was able to capture a series of interview segments. The core of this material has been turned into a painting demonstration that has been made available for free to our The Book of Giants Kickstarter supporters. There was enough extra footage to create this second video highlighting bonus interview footage that showcases some of Petar’s works. This we have made available for your viewing pleasure here and on the Spectrum Fantastic Art website.

To view our books on Petar and to watch another video, please visit here.

Enjoy,

John

John Fleskes

Flesk Publications
Flesk Publications on Facebook
Spectrum Fantastic Art
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live on Facebook

Text and photographs copyright © 2015 John Fleskes. Videos © 2015 Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2015 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.

New Videos: Justin Gerard, Steve Rude, Tribes of Kai and SFAL!

Hi, all,

We’ve been hard at work on a series of new books. I will post a fresh update on all Flesk fall releases soon. In the meantime, please enjoy our latest videos.

Interview with Justin Gerard during the Spectrum 22 judging event. Justin talks about his latest book projects and gallery events, working with his wife Annie Stegg Gerard, his influences and about Spectrum. This was filmed at the Flesk offices on February 28, 2015 in Santa Cruz, California.

Steve Rude visited our Flesk offices in Santa Cruz, California on February 19th to work with us on his new book, The Nexus Chronicles. This new collection assembles eight of Steve’s favorite Nexus creations scanned direct from the original art. This 304 page book comes out this fall. For now, you can watch Steve provide a drawing demonstration of Nexus in his sketchbook.

A simple spark sets in motion a power struggle ablaze in conflict. Fully painted by Daren Bader and written by Lance HaunRogue! Tribes of Kai is an oversized, full-color hardbound book boasting sixty exciting pages of story and pinups by top creators including Frank Cho, Dave Palumbo, plus Julie Bell and Boris Vallejo. Trade and Deluxe Limited editions will be available in August, 2015 from Flesk Publications. Pre-order through the Flesk Kickstarter campaign and get free bonus items.

Spectrum Fantastic Art Live runs May 22-24th, 2015 at the Kansas City Convention Center, Kansas City, MO. For full details and to purchase tickets visit: spectrumfantasticartlive.com

Be a part of Spectrum Fantastic Art Live by attending this event that celebrates the fantastic art and its creators. SFAL is a fantasy-focused art fair, in which creators can display, share and sell originals, prints, sculpture, crafts, toys and more to an audience of fans and peers. There is something for everything, including presentations, panels, displays, portfolio reviews, workshops, educational opportunities and the Spectrum 22 awards ceremony. In short, our goal is to honor the artists and put on a fantasy art convention that anyone is welcome to attend.

John

John Fleskes

Flesk Publications
Flesk Publications on Facebook
Spectrum Fantastic Art
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live on Facebook

Text and photographs copyright © 2014 John Fleskes. Videos © 2014 Flesk Publications. Artwork © 2014 its respective artists. All Rights reserved.

Interview with Mark Schultz about his new art book, “Carbon”

The new art book, Mark Schultz: Carbon, collecting Schultz’s most recent works is off to the printer. Our advertised release date is August 1st, but we are hoping to have copies at our Flesk booth just in time for the San Diego Comic Con. (I’ll keep you updated.)

You can pre-order copies at our Kickstarter campaign, which gets you a special price and bonus goodies. (Click here to visit.) Afterward, the book will be available for pre-order from our website, although without the Kickstarter goodies.

I have conducted an interview with Mark about his new book and what you can expect to see inside.

John Flesk: Carbon will contain material completed over the last two years. What can one expect to find within the book?

Mark Schultz: I’m focusing more on process than ever before. The feedback I get from readers in general is that there is a great interest in seeing the work that goes into creating the finish. So, in Carbon, I consciously tried to give a little more information on the steps that lead to the finish. There’s an entire section showing, step by step, the visual evolution of the newly identified dinosaur I rendered, along with text describing my work with the paleontologist.

There’s a greater concentration on my evolving use of color, too. The subject matter, I admit, is pretty much what would be expected of me: lots of adventure, speculative fiction stuff and tough girls.

JF: When did you start experimenting with watercolor highlights in your works and can we expect to see a shift to more color in your art?

MS: Defining, modulating and sharpening watercolors with carbon pencils is something I’ve been playing with for several years now. At first, I was pretty conservative with the color, as you suggest, doing more tinting of carbon pencil drawings than anything else. Recently, though, I’ve gotten a little more confident and have started leaning more on the color and less on the drawing. The cover to Carbon is my most extensive shift to color yet.

It’s an evolving process and my goal is to get to the point where I feel I can, when I choose, ditch the use of the pencils altogether and achieve the effect I want with the watercolor alone. Its part of my bigger plan to loosen up, become a bit more painterly and not so constrained by “line” when a particular piece would work best that way.

JF: Why have you worked primarily in black and white for much of your career?

MS: When I started my career in comics, with Xenozoic Tales, working the story in black and white was the only avenue open to me. That’s what my publisher at the time, Kitchen Sink, could offer. Which was not a problem—I’ve always loved monochromatic work, whether it be in comics, illustration, prints or movies.  When you get rid of color, there is a greater emphasis placed on composition, lighting, and texture—and you can achieve all sorts of atmospheric stuff with those elements.

When I was later given the opportunity to do Xenozoic in color, I chose to continue it in B&W, because that is how I’ve come to see it. I can’t imagine drawing the comic’s series as anything other than a monochromatic work.

Don’t get me wrong: I like working in color, too. But I feel a certain affection for B&W because it has become, I think, marginalized in our world where color is now so easily achievable in any media. People have come to think of B&W work as representing a drop in quality, not as an aesthetic choice. I want to see that attitude change.

JF: Do you have an interest in expanding into doing more color works in the future, either by adding watercolor to your brush and ink works, or full watercolors or even oil paintings?

MS: I absolutely do want to have the ability to create color work when it’s needed. It’s a matter of me putting in the reps and getting my technique to where I feel comfortable with my chops. Right now, my focus is on developing more command of watercolor—specifically transparent watercolor, of which Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent were perhaps the absolute top practitioners. (And I am very well aware that, with those two, I have picked impossibly high standards to shoot for.) I have this idea of where I want to go with color illustration done in transparent watercolor—and its great ability to duplicate the quality of natural light—that could nicely compliment my brush and ink illustrations.  I hope.

JF: When comparing your art from three to four years ago to something you are working on today, how do you feel you have grown artistically in this time frame? Why?

MS: I don’t know if I’m the right person to ask. It’s all too close to me. I do feel that I’m getting closer to achieving the moods and feelings I want in my work, but I’m not sure how others perceive it.

Having said that, from my perspective, the last few years have seen a lot of growth in my work. I’m happier with what I’m producing today than I ever have been before. It sort of feels like the first twenty years of my career was all about laying groundwork and trial and error, and in the last few years I’ve been able to actually move forward into something I feel is my own.

And having said that, I’m always miserable about not getting on paper what I’m seeing in my head. (Not an uncommon condition among artist-types.)

JF: Your brush and ink art appearing in Carbon is a bit looser than pieces completed in the past. Has this been a conscious decision?

MS: I’m glad you think so—loosening up is something I’ve very much wanted to move toward. I drive myself crazy with my tendencies to carefully control every line I lay down. It’s obsessive and drains energy from finishes—and is one reason I think many people tend to like my preliminaries more. So, yes, I have been very consciously working on strategies to help me keep my finishes looser and livelier. The goal is always to create an illusion of movement and energy in a still image.

JF: How much does the imagery depicted within Carbon reflect your personal interests?

MS: Hmm—let’s see: dinosaurs, warrior women, Vikings, kitty cats, the sea. Pretty much 100% personal interest. I’m trying to think if there’s anything in here that I would have chosen not to do, if I had the choice. I don’t think so. I think that, if you take on the work of creating something, it’s your job to find a way of making it personal—making the piece something that has meaning to you, regardless the subject matter. If you can’t figure a way of doing that, the project probably isn’t right for you.  Uh, oh—I’m starting to lecture…

JF: Then I’ll change gears. How do you think Carbon differs from any of your previous art books?

MS: Bottom line, it’s bigger and more comprehensive. I think the production is stepped up a big notch, along with my showcased works. The 12” x 9” dimensions and the extra gatefolds really allow us to impressively expand the size of some of the pieces—sometimes close to the original dimensions. The use of color throughout—even the black and white pieces that are reproduced in color so that the paper tone and blue line work pop out—is more extensive and better balanced that ever before. And, as I mentioned elsewhere, there’s a greater focus on my process, both with preliminary and production works and in text.

I wanted the Various Drawings collections to have the quality of museum exhibition catalogues, and I think we achieved that in spades. I want Carbon to be a looser, more varied, more immersive experience.  I think we’ve hit that, too.

JF: I do too, Mark. Thanks for your time!

Enjoy,

John

John Fleskes
Flesk Publications
Interview copyright © 2013 John Fleskes and Mark Schultz. Art copyright © 2013 Mark Schultz

Links:
Mark Schultz Kickstarter Campaign
Mark Schultz books from Flesk Publications

 

John Fleskes Interviews from 2006 and 2010

I’m moving these pair of interview links with me over from my old Flesk site to archive here on my blog. One of which is fro 2006 and the other from 2010. As I skim through them it’s interesting to see how I was thinking back then.

Jason Sacks at Comics Bulletin has interviewed Flesk publisher John Fleskes regarding his working relationship with William Stout and the process that goes into making a Flesk art book. You can read it at the Comics Bulletin website here. From December 2010.

Bill Baker interviews John Fleskes for World Famous Comics web site. Read it here. Originally conducted in October 2006.

Enjoy,

John

John Fleskes
Flesk Publications

 

Mark Schultz “Various Drawings Volume Two” Interview from 2006

Mark Schultz responds to questions about his new book, Various Drawings Volume Two, Xenozoic Tales, and his artistic style. Originally conducted in 2006 by John Fleskes. Moving to my blog for archival purposes.

Flesk Publications: For this second collection of your drawings, how is it different than the first volume?

Mark Schultz: I think there’s more of an emphasis on my recent work in this volume, but the formula remains pretty much the same as in Vol. 1: a variety of preliminary as well as finished works, variously rendered in ink, graphite and carbon pencil. Still, there is some older material, chosen because it has either not been previously published, or was published in a very limited venue. The biggest difference is probably in tone—when I’m choosing work for a given collection, part of the decision-making process involves developing a kind of rhythm and connection between the drawings. Certain drawings and subjects just seem to hang together better than others do. I think the tone of Vol. 2 is noticeably different than that of Vol. 1—it’s somewhat more varied, looser…

FP: Various Drawings Volume Two features a gatefold of your first sequential artwork in years; a thirties Sunday strip featuring a Xenozoic Tales topper, and Flash Gordon main feature. How does it feel to briefly get back to storytelling? Was it challenging?

MS: Storytelling, for me, is the biggest challenge. Producing sequential art has a much higher degree of difficulty than simple illustration. I love telling stories in the comics format, and only wish that I was fast enough to do it more regularly. It’s incredibly time-consuming, drawing all the panels necessary to tell a story with the kind of visual techniques I enjoy using. I am on an eternal quest to simplify my style appropriately for sequential use. Hasn’t happened yet, but I’m trying.

FP: You drew a sultry pin-up style illustration of Hannah, which is included in the book. Is this pin-up style a first for you?

MS: I’m very conscious of the large audience out there that enjoys pin-up type cheesecake. I’m not sure this particular piece is so much something entirely new for me, as it is an evolution. I’ve drawn Hannah and other female characters in sexy poses before, but I’m probably pushing my own envelope here a little. Generally speaking, I like my females to look like they can take care of themselves. I don’t do that “baby doll, let’s-play-dress-up” thing. I’m hoping that while this particular drawing of Hannah maybe pushes the pure sex appeal further than I have done in the past, that she still looks like the real deal.

FP: Who are some of your favorite pin-up artists?

MS: Gil Elvgren is, in my opinion, the best of the best. In addition to him, I’ve always enjoyed Petty. And, more contemporarily, studying Dave Steven’s work has taught me a lot.

FP: Is there a personal favorite piece in VD2, which you are especially proud of?

MS: I’m pretty happy with all of them, or they wouldn’t be in there. (I’ve got a lot of drawings that will never make the cut.) I’m pleased in general with the more recent work, because I can see that my drawing abilities are continuing to develop and grow. The frontispiece—the scuttled SubHuman cover, is particularly interesting to me because I penciled and did some inking on it back in 1998. When I picked it up again to finish it this year, I felt I needed to redo much of the inking because it didn’t work for me anymore. I feel like I now have a much more “solid”—a stronger, more dynamic—inking style.

FP: What are you working on now?

MS: I’m working on a number of private commissions as well as starting in on a storybook tentatively titled Storms At Sea—a combination of text and illustration that will be published by Flesk in 2007. It’s a hardboiled global conspiracy cautionary tale, with lots of opportunities for wildly varying illustrations. I’m writing it, and roughing out the graphics, now.

Beyond that, I continue to write the Prince Valiant strip in the Sunday funnies—gorgeously rendered by Gary Gianni—and draw the occasional comic book cover.

Mark Schultz Interview © 2006 Flesk Publications. All rights reserved.